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Expense: Definition, Types, and How Expenses Are Recorded

    Operating expenses refer to expenditure relating to the principal activities of your business, such as the cost of the materials used to make a product you sell. Usually, direct expenses are linked to the manufacturing of a product, for example, the cost of raw materials. Direct expenses therefore fluctuate according to the rate of production, but should be consistent examples of variable costs for each unit of production. So, while an example of a cost might be the purchase of a van by a company, the payment for petrol and servicing are expenses. You can create a separate expense sub-account for all the expenses you have, like rent and insurance payments. And, last but not least, creating an expense account is all part of managing your accounting books.

    What needs to be noted here is that expenses like the purchase of land and equipment are not taken as simple expenses in accounting but rather as capital expenditures. This hence means that these assets are expended throughout their useful life through depreciation and amortization. An expense is a cost that businesses incur in running their operations. Expenses include wages, salaries, maintenance, rent, and depreciation. Businesses are allowed to deduct certain expenses from taxes to help alleviate the tax burden and bulk up profits.

    • However, when considering expenses for the double-entry bookkeeping system, expenses are just one of the five-main groups where all your financial transactions are recorded.
    • Expenses in accounting are the money spent or costs incurred by a business in an effort to generate revenue.
    • You can see operating expenses summarized in an income or profit-and-loss statement.
    • This organizational method to reviewing expense accounts is invaluable.

    Expense accounts are considered temporary accounts, meaning they reset when a new period starts. Accrued expenses also may make it easier for companies to plan and strategize. Accrued expenses often yield more consistent financial results as companies can include recurring transactions in their financial reports that may not yet have been paid. In addition, accrued expenses may be a financial reporting requirement depending on the company and its Securities and Exchange Commission filing requirements.

    An expense is a type of expenditure that flows through the income statement and is deducted from revenue to arrive at net income. Due to the accrual principle in accounting, expenses are recognized when they are incurred, not necessarily when they are paid for. A company pays its employees’ salaries on the first day of the following month for services received in the prior month. So, employees that worked all of November will be paid in December. If on Dec. 31, the company’s income statement recognizes only the salary payments that have been made, the accrued expenses from the employees’ services for December will be omitted.

    These are those expenses that cannot be linked back to operating revenue. One of the most common examples of non-operating expenses is interest expense. This is because while interest is the cost of borrowing money from a creditor or a bank, they are not generating any operating income. Additionally, it will also give you valuable insights on where you can minimize your expenses and save your budget when you need to do so. In fact, as directed by your respective taxation governments, necessary business expenses can be deducted from your taxable income.

    Where Are Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) Used?

    Some topics include what an expense is, if expenses can be a good thing, and much more. These articles and related content is the property of The Sage Group plc or its contractors or its licensors (“Sage”). Please do not copy, reproduce, modify, distribute or disburse without express consent from Sage. These articles and related content is provided as a general guidance for informational purposes only.

    Other secondary tasks may include the installation of new parts, monitoring production, and continuous maintenance. Due to the increase in demand for its high-profiled iron sheets, the company executives decide to buy a new minting machine to revamp production. They estimate the new machine will be able to improve production by 35%, thus closing the gap in the demanding market. Company Y decides to acquire the equipment at the cost of $100 million. It’s important to understand the difference between an expenditure and an expense.

    Expenses in the double-entry bookkeeping system are recorded as a debit to a specific expense account. Simultaneously, the same amount’s credit entry also needs to be recorded, which will reduce your assets and increase your liabilities. Expenses in accounting are the money spent or costs incurred by a business in an effort to generate revenue.

    An Example of Expenses and Its Accounting

    The purchase of an asset such as land or equipment is not considered a simple expense but rather a capital expenditure. Assets are expensed throughout their useful life through depreciation and amortization. For example, your company paid its rent for the entire year in advance in January itself.

    Financial Expenses

    Companies using the accrual method of accounting recognize accrued expenses, costs that have not yet been paid for but have already been incurred. Accrued expenses make a set of financial statements more consistent by recording charges in specific periods, though it takes more resources to perform this type of accounting. While the cash method of accounting recognizes items when they are paid, the accrual method recognizes accrued expenses based on when service is performed or received. A prepaid expense is a type of asset on the balance sheet that results from a business making advanced payments for goods or services to be received in the future. Prepaid expenses are initially recorded as assets, but their value is expensed over time onto the income statement.


    Indirect expenses are confined to office expenditures, such as rent, utilities and employee salaries. An expense is an item requiring an outflow of money, or any form of fortune in general, to another person or group as payment for an item, service, or other category of costs. Buying food, clothing, furniture, or an automobile is often referred to as an expense.

    As corporations increasingly need to navigate global markets and conduct operations worldwide, international standards are becoming increasingly popular at the expense of GAAP, even in the U.S. Almost all S&P 500 companies report at least one non-GAAP measure of earnings as of 2019. Variable expenses, however, are those which directly depend on how much a company is selling.

    This is a type of temporary account in which are stored all expenses incurred by an entity during an accounting period. Thus, there may be expense accounts for bank fees, the cost of goods sold, utilities, and so forth. These accounts are considered temporary, for they are zeroed out at the end of the fiscal year, to make room for the recordation of a new set of expenses in the next fiscal year. An expense account refers to funds paid to an employee, which are then used for travel and entertainment expenditures. Expense account funds may be paid in advance of the time when they are actually expended on company business, in which case the funds are referred to as an advance. Alternatively, the funds may be paid in response to the submission of an expense report by an employee, in which case the funds are referred to as a reimbursement.

    For companies that are responsible for external reporting, accrued expenses play a big part in wrapping up month-end, quarter-end, or fiscal year-end processes. A company usually does not book accrued expenses during the month; instead, accrued expenses are booked during the close period. Accrued expenses are not meant to be permanent; they are meant to be temporary records that take the place of a true transaction in the short-term. As a result, the company treats the transaction as an asset until it receives all the benefits of the purchase. In the books of accounts, the arrangement doesn’t affect the business’ profitability because the company is yet to acquire the asset and does not yet receive the benefits of the asset. The company charges the outcome of the transaction to the profit or loss account over a given timeframe.

    As such, you don’t want to cut expenses for the sake of saving money. Changing suppliers may harm you in the long run, even if the product you receive saves you money. There are several reasons that you should have an expense account. First of all, accounting books are required to keep an expense account to remain legal.

    An expense report is a form of document that contains all the expenses that an individual has incurred as a result of the business operation. For example, if the owner of a business travels to another location for a meeting, the cost of travel, the meals, and all other expenses that he/she has incurred may be added to the expense report. Consequently, these expenses will be considered business expenses and are tax-deductible.

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